Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Day 18 - Jamming Our Joy

          (This is part of a 31 day writing challenge, to write on the same topic everyday in October. This series is Joy in the Journey. To read others in this series, click here.)

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           On Day 11, I wrote about When There is No Joy.  Not counting those times, there are things we do that jam up our own joy. Here are 5 Jams that will keep us from a joyful life.

1.    The Blame Game
We need to own our emotions. It is common for us to blame others for how we feel. We can get angry when someone cuts us off in traffic. We can feel hopeless when we read about the crime in our city. We can feel jealous when someone else gets the promotion, car, position or life we wanted. We can feel frustrated when our teenage sons stay up to all hours of the night leaving a giant mess in the kitchen, living room and bathroom, for us to clean before we go to work. – (These are all theoretical examples of course!) –But it is easy to blame others for our bad mood. We need to own our emotions and not allow other people or situations to determine our frame of mind. It’s like the old saying, ‘The devil made me do it.’ We may not be able to control everything that happens, but we do have control of our emotions and how we choose to react.

2.    Failing to Forgive
Refusing to forgive someone and holding a grudge can eat away at us and seriously jam up our joy. To increase our joy we need to release the burden of holding onto the hurt and rehearsing the wrongs done to us. Forgiveness is not always a one-time event. Sometimes we have to forgive in our mind over and over until we release it so our heart can feel free. Nursing a hurt or holding a grudge is a terrible weight to carry around and hurts us much more than the other person.

3.    Appointing Ourselves as Spiritual Sheriffs
Do we go through life pointing out where others are wrong? Do we critique the sermon, music, people or church on Sunday mornings? Do we question why a group or organization does things that way and not our way? There is so much hate and criticism online and in social media, including among brothers and sisters in Christ. Who made these people the Spiritual Sheriffs? Looking for others mistakes and pointing out what is wrong with the world can jam up our joy everyday.

4.    Inner-directed
Inner-directed is a synonym for all the ‘s’ words: self-centered, self-focused, self-seeking etc. Do you walk into a room and say, “Here I am.” or “There you are?” Are we more concerned about taking selfies than we are sharing with others? As followers of Christ, who laid down His life for us, we need to be more about others than ourselves. Look around. People are starving for some Good News, for someone to care about them, their kids and their situations. Are we so busy talking about ourselves and telling our stories, that we miss opportunities to ask about others and encourage them? Joy blooms when we think about others more than ourselves.

God placed us in communities, families and relationships. We will always be around other people. Let’s not jam up our opportunity for joy by blaming them, failing to forgive, acting as spiritual sheriffs or being self-focused.

Love one another with brotherly affection.
Outdo one another in showing honor.   Romans 12:10

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.   1 John 4:7-8